Successfully Marketing to Seniors
(65 and Over)

Successfully Marketing to Seniors (65 and Over)The buying power of the senior population is widely underestimated. With seventy percent of the disposable income in the United States, consumers over the age of 65 have more influence than ever before.1 Seniors can have a dramatic impact on your bottom line if you develop marketing strategies that appeal to this evolving market.

The arrival of the Baby Boomers (individuals born between 1954 and 1964) into retirement dramatically changed the profile of the senior consumer. In the past, marketing campaigns designed to target buyers over the age of 65 relied on traditional media and the assumption that seniors’ research prior to the point of sale was extremely limited. Although there will be some customers who will prefer more of an “old-school” approach to a sale, the evolution of the modern senior consumer has to impact the way we market products and services.

The Modern Senior Consumer

Today’s senior population is Internet-savvy, active, and influential. They are educated and have been driving the economy for decades. According to AdAge, Baby Boomers have a 47x net worth higher than younger consumers. As the fastest growing market in the country, it’s important to appeal to the emerging needs and expectations of these buyers.  Understanding their priorities and preferences, especially when it comes to purchasing health insurance, can result in a higher return on your marketing investment, an improvement in lead conversion rates, and an increase in sales and overall revenue.

Looking for the best ways to advertise to seniors? Consider what is most important to your potential customers:

Independence – Independence is incredibly important to seniors who recognize they may face changes in their health, lifestyle, or living arrangements at some point in the future.

Custom Solutions – Although many individuals over the age of 65 are open to change, especially during Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period, they expect customized solutions to their needs.

Access to Information – Baby Boomers have forged their own path for decades – and expect to have 24/7 access to Medicare plan information, pricing and comparisons, followed by the assistance of a knowledgeable licensed sales agent who they can trust.

Respect – Marketing in any form must respectfully address these consumers, with visuals and content that acknowledge their experience and intellect.

Compliance in Marketing Healthcare to Seniors

In order to take advantage of the vast sales opportunities within the Medicare market, you must adhere to the laws and guidelines documented and distributed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) regarding marketing regulations to Medicare recipients.

CMS is part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The Medicare Marketing Guidelines (MMG) implement CMS’ requirements for distributing marketing materials related to Medicare Advantage (with or without prescription drug coverage) or Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans.2

In creating and distributing any marketing materials, it is mandatory to remain in compliance with the CMS requirements in order to avoid sanctions and penalties. Marketing materials subject to CMS oversight can include, but are not limited to:

  • Direct mail pieces
  • Advertising on television, the Internet, publications, radio, or billboards
  • Promotional materials
  • Communications regarding membership, contracts, plan activities, notifications of changes to providers, costs, or benefits
  • Presentation materials
  • Scripts and outlines for sales agents

Read and review the Medicare Marketing Guidelines carefully to understand the full scope of these parameters before you market healthcare options to seniors.  Make certain your content is in compliance and has been approved by CMS if necessary.

In addition to font size (materials must be printed with the equivalent or greater of 12-point Times New Roman) and the need for TTY numbers and hours of operation listed on communications, there are specific rules you must adhere to regarding content. For instance, CMS prohibits the distribution of marketing materials that are inaccurate, misleading, or make misrepresentations.

Documents that require submission to CMS for approval are varied, but plan and Part D sponsors must have marketing materials reviewed, approved, and marked with a CMS approval identification code.

Online Marketing to Seniors

With Baby Boomers and seniors more comfortable than ever in searching for information and making purchases online, web-based marketing to Medicare recipients can be very effective.  Consider these tips for effective online advertising to seniors:

  1. Keep it user-friendly.

Even though many seniors are comfortable online, everyone appreciates a user-friendly site. Make sure your content is easy to navigate. If your prospects need to click on links for further information, make sure interface elements are clear and separated by enough white space to keep the page as uncluttered as possible.

  1. Check the details.

Font size, colors, and contrast ratios between background and text should be chosen thoughtfully. These details can make a difference in appealing to the senior market. Some seniors may suffer from declining vision and hearing loss, so make sure that your marketing and website design keeps their needs in mind. Use focus groups to confirm that your website is appealing to the eye and easy to read.

  1. Images should reflect your target audience.

Keep your clientele in mind as you choose photos to use in marketing materials, online communications, and your website. If you are trying to get the attention of people over 50, make sure the images are age-appropriate and reflect their lives, including the activities, events, and people they might find comforting.

Avoid stereotypes. Instead, incorporate familiar, positive images into your materials that may elicit an emotional response from a prospect.

Online marketing can be complemented with insurance sales software programs that include Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools, auto-response technology, and real-time quoting engines. Not only can health plans and insurance agencies provide the 24/7 access to Medicare healthcare information seniors need, but these tools can be customized with your company’s branding, tone, and vision.

Effective Direct Mail & Print Marketing to Seniors

Direct mail is still the “top purchase influencer for Baby Boomers.”3

Demonstrate your commitment to integrity and accuracy in all your marketing efforts – whether it’s online or in print. Printed materials can be very effective – some seniors still prefer to have something tangible in their hands to review, such as a brochure, a clutter-free ad in a senior-friendly publication, or a direct mail piece.

Keep your message short and sweet – and keep it in sync with your brand, online marketing efforts, and print marketing.  Despite the growth of online marketing, direct mail response rates are still strong. While some competitors may be abandoning direct mail in favor of emails and online advertising, you can take the opportunity to dominate the channel. According to Deft Research, direct mail continues to be a “major motivator” for senior consumers to visit a website.4

Content Counts

It’s not enough to use bigger fonts and stock photos of seniors to garner attention. Take advantage of the opportunity to make a connection with your prospective client by considering the following Medicare marketing tips:

  • Explain why your insurance products and services will improve the quality of your customer’s life.
  • Emphasize the customized solutions you offer and the personal attention you’d like to provide – now, during, and after the sale.
  • Be aware of your tone of voice, even in written language. Avoid any phrases that might sound condescending or disrespectful.
  • Do not use fear tactics to entice someone to make a purchase. It’s unethical to prey on the vulnerabilities of a consumer.
  • Express empathy for your prospect’s circumstances and focus on building a relationship. Remember that a single client can result in referrals and additional ancillary sales in the years ahead.

Regardless of the methods you choose to appeal to the senior consumer, compliance with CMS Medicare Marketing Guidelines and the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 (MIPPA) is essential. Make sure any promotions or referral rewards programs are also in accordance with federal, state, and local laws before planning and advertising.

Seniors represent a growing market full of sales potential within the healthcare industry, but success depends on your effort to create marketing that meets the specific needs and expectations of these consumers. Familiarize yourself with the CMS guidelines for marketing healthcare to seniors to remain in compliance with federal laws, and take time to understand the healthcare coverage needs of seniors so that once you get their attention with effective advertising, you will be ready to provide them with the information, support, and assistance they need to find the Medicare health insurance plan that is right for them.

1) Don’t Ignore Boomers – The Most Valuable Generation; 08-06-12; Nielsen;

2) Medicare Marketing Guidelines 2018; Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services;

3) “Direct Mail A Top Purchase Influencer for Baby Boomers;” July 9, 2015; Marketing Charts;

4) Direct mail drives seniors to websites; Lois A. Bowers, Senior Editor; September 11, 2016, McKnight’s Senior Living;